Graphic design is one of the subjects that I have some interest in. Even though I’m not really that great making designs, I still enjoy understanding how the process works. Whenever I am at a bookstore, I would often go to section that’s full of variety of graphic design books. I spend so much time browsing through the shelves that I would be surprised to find out that I spent three hours obsessing over the contents of the books that I looked at. While it is easy to find articles about the history and the people who have been part of it, it’s sometimes hard to get into it.
The thing about design is that it exists all around us. Nature has some free flowing shapes that you can on your walks back home. There are so many aspects to design that just are part of our lives whether we know it or not. Even the things that we interact with or the place we go to, there are people who helped make that thing a reality. Graphic design sort of exists in the things we buy. The labels on the can of soup or the print on our t-shirts were mostly just ideas made by a person or a group with intention. Sometimes you grab a box of cookies because the design on the packaging looked nice.
One of the most iconic people in the world of graphic design is none other than Milton Glaser. A lot of the graphic designers whose work I enjoy often mention Milton Glaser as one of their inspirations. But before I did my research on him, I didn’t really much about him except his name. You’d think a person who is into graphic design would already know Milton is. Sometimes I’m just more into the aesthetics than the person who made it. I guess up at that point, Milton Glaser and his work was my blind spot.
Milton was born in the Bronx to two Hungarian immigrants. His father owned a dry-cleaning shop while his mom was a homemaker. Apparently, one of his older cousins drew a bird on the side of a paper bag just for fun. At that moment, it lead him to realize that he could spend his life creating something worthwhile, using whatever tool he could use. It’s somehow common that a specific moment in a person’s life would lead to them pursue a certain career.
Eventually, Milton studied hard in order to get into art school. During his teenage years, he took drawing classes with social realists and brothers Raphael and Moses Seyers. He went on to study at the High School of Music and Art. He tried to apply to the Pratt Institute, but unfortunately he failed the entrance exam for it twice. He took a job at a package-design company, probably to earn money for school, before he got accepted to Cooper Union.
During his years at Cooper Union, he along with some of his classmates rented out a loft in Greenwich Village to start a company called Design Plus. They only managed to make only one project. Still, they were able to sell the cork mats they made to a famous department store. Milton went on to work at Vogue Magazine in their promo department. He then got a Fulbright scholarship to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Italy. Then he got back in touch with his classmates to establish Pushpin Studios.
In 1974, he started his own design firm. Nine years after that, he partner with Walter Bernard to establish the publishing design firm WBMG. They did a lot of work for different magazines and other periodicals. He did a lot of stuff over the length of his career. One of his most iconic works was the I Love New York logo. You know the one. I feel like almost everybody has seen that design or at least copied it for themselves. Aside from that he also co-founded New York magazine with Clay Felker.
Looking at all of the works that’s available to view on his month, I am amazed at how good his work is. There are so many designs that I fucking love. Especially the wordmark for New York magazine. In 2020, Milton Glaser passed away from a stroke and renal failure. Prior to his death, he earned a net worth of about $6,000,000.